‘We just watched it burn’ St. Francois Xavier family loses everything in house fire

By | August 11, 2020

WINNIPEG — A St. Francois Xavier family is homeless after a fire ripped through their house destroying everything.

Although they made it out safely, all they have left is the clothes they were wearing.

Homeowner, Robyn Pierce was napping in her bedroom while her daughter was in the living room watching TV, then she heard a loud bang.

“I heard the kitchen window break, so I rushed out of my bedroom into the kitchen and there was fire pouring in through the window. That’s when the smoke came in.”

Pierce said nearby residents also saw the fire and rushed over to alert the family.

She grabbed her daughter, their dog, and fled the burning house.

“Then we just watched it burn,” she said, “the entire east side of the house was completely engulfed by that point.”

Pierce said two hours later, the house was gone.

Pierce and her daughter weren’t hurt, but the family lost three kittens to the fire.

She said she was grateful to the bystanders and the fire crews for helping her family escape the house unharmed.

One witness to the fire was Megan Hutchinson.

She was visiting her grandmother, who lives nearby, when she saw smoke billowing across the highway.

Hutchinson said she saw Pierce’s house on fire and a van in the driveway, so she ran over to make sure no one was inside.

“Is anyone in here? Your house is on fire!” Hutchinson yelled. “Sure enough, there were two people who came out and their dog.”

Hutchinson said shortly after, the whole house went up in flames.

St. Francois Xavier’s Fire Chief – Russell McKenzie said it took close to five hours to completely put out the fire.

The cause is still unknown.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to determine (the cause), just because of the damage to the structure, it’s going to be undetermined at this time,” said McKenzie.

He added that this is one of the biggest structure fires he’s seen in years, and neighboring fire departments from Eli, and the Rural Municipality of Cartier came in to help battle the blaze.

Pierce’s neighbor set up a GoFundMe page for the family to help them replace some of their belongings.

The RM office in St. Francois Xavier has offered to be a drop off location for donations to the family.

Pierce is staying with family for the time being, but she has five kids, so she’s looking for a more accommodating space.

“I’m honestly grateful that my other kids weren’t in the house. I don’t know if I could have gotten me and five kids out in time.” 

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